Australian Cattle Dog history

Mans best friend in bush

Australians are speaking about their ACDs with full respect and recognition as a "mans best friend in the bush".
The Cattle Dog has definitely a very special place in the hearts of Australian people. This “power-dog“ from „Down Under“ has many names and faces. He is best known as Australian Heeler, Blue or Red Heeler, but also as a Halls Heeler or Queensland Heeler. His official name is Australian Cattle Dog.

Working dogs for the early settlers.

Australian Cattle Dog

The history of the Australian Cattle Dog is linked to the history of the fifth continent and its conquerors. The early settlers in Australia settled down mostly in the region around today’s sprawling city Sydney. They brought with them both livestock and the dogs they used to work them. These sheepdog-type-canines were wonderful herders in the British Isles, but were not built to withstand the rigors of the rugged Australian outback. Known as “Smithfields”, a name taken form the central Smithfield meat markets of London, they were decent herders but their heavy coat and bulk resulted in a lack of stamina when the colonizers moved inland (north of Sydney over the Hunter Valley and southern into the Illawarra District) toward the harsher climates of the outback. 1813 the Great Dividing Range was discovered and over this pass the endless pastures in the west were entered.
Totally different stock breeding was possible. A single station could span over hundreds or even thousands of square kilometers. The borders were hardly ever fenced. Different from the past, the cattle were marooned and left alone. The herds moved freely and independently on the vast pasture and lost their familiarity with humans.
Dogs were used to drive some tame cattle within fenced yards on short trails back to the farm or to the market.

Breeding goal – the perfect herding dog

In 1830 Timmins a rancher named decided to cross the Smithfield with the native Australian Dingo. Timmins was eager to breed a silent working dog. The resulting dogs were a red bob-tailed breed that became known as "Timmins Biters," and they were indeed silent workers. Unfortunately, their name was appropriate, as it was quickly found that these dogs were severe biters who could not be trusted not to kill calves when out of their owner's sight. Thus these dogs disappeared after some time.
In 1840, Mr. Thomas Hall of Muswelbrook, New South Wales imported a couple of Blue Smooth Highland Collies. Mr. Hall took the progeny of these two collies and crossed them with the Dingo. The resulting dogs were either blue or red speckled pups that became known as "Hall's Heelers". These dogs, described as blue or red thickset dingoes, crept up on the livestock silently, nipped and then would immediately 'clap' or flatten to the ground to avoid the backlashing kick of an angry bovine. Mr. Hall continued his experimental Highland Collie-Dingo breedings until his death in 1870.


Word spread of these "Hall's Heelers", now also referred to as "Blue Heelers" or "Queensland Heelers", and in the early 1870's a butcher named Fred Davis brought a pair of Hall's dogs to work in the stockyards of Sydney. As the stockmen worked with these dogs they became sold on the breed.

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